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Stories from Dad

Working the Oilfields and Winning Canoeing Awards

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One of the highlights of North-West Expeditions has been having Dad send us his stories. Below are two of his short stories.  The first is about his trip to Canada to work the oil fields 1958. The second is about some canoeing adventures he had in 1972.

Working the Oil Fields

“Hi Guys, thought I’d tell you another story that I probably haven’t told you.

In 1958, after my first year at the University of Wyoming, I flew back to Canada -in a company plane- to join the family who had come to Canada about a year before.

Like a typical college student, I packed up all my dirty clothes and stuffed them into a pair of jeans (so much for bags). When we landed in Edmonton and went through customs, the customs officer looked at the jeans and said “Ok what did you do with the rest of the body.” We both had a good laugh.

My dad was the drilling superintendent for Cascade Drilling. Once I got to Edmonton he put me on a crew of a tool pusher, drillers, and roughnecks set to fly to Haida Guai (then the Queen Charlotte Islands) via Vancouver. Like good rig workers, we all got fairly drunk the evening we got into Van. We weren’t feeling too well when we got to the airport.

We saw a bunch of RCMP, and found out that Princess Margaret had just arrived at the same airport. Anyway, we took off… to immediately turn around because the plane we were on had an oil leak. Needless to say we hadn’t listened to the emergency instructions, but as soon as we heard the announcement we sure wished we had.

So went back and got on another tiny plane and headed north. The whole trip sun flashed through the props like a strobe light, which wasn’t too pleasant for guys with a hangover. As we landed in Sandspit airport, we were sure we’d end up in the ocean, but we didn’t. The pilot seemed to think it was a pretty normal landing. We took the ferry across to Queen Charlotte City and headed north to Port Clement where the rig was being unloaded and we were staying.

Two things about that day stick in my mind: the first was that one of the other crew members robbed me, while I was out. The other was that we had crab salad served in a soup plate about eight or nine inches across at the restaurant in Port Clement. Cost of lunch 50 cents.

It was so damp that they wouldn’t let us start drilling so we scraped and painted for about 10 days. We somehow had transportation up to Masset and got up to Tow Hill, about 60 miles south of Ketchikan, Alaska. I got sent back to work on a rig up in the Burnt Timber area, just above the Red Deer ranger Station west of Sundre, Alberta. Sundre was a pretty good time. There were a couple of Danish guys that were a lot of fun.

Winning Canoeing Awards

A few years later, we had gotten into the canoeing and kayak club. We hosted the 1972 National Whitewater Championships on the Red Deer River, just down from Red Deer ranger Station where I had worked in 1958.

I got a special award at Canadian National Whitewater Championships 1972 in the Riverbed Inspection and Rock Testing Class because I turned over and hit more rocks than I guess anyone else in the completion. It was a great laugh and I still value it.

Later that year I redeemed myself when my canoeing partner, Prokop, and I won the Downriver C2 (closed 2 person canoe) BC Championships.   

Well that’s my story for now.

Love,

D.

Canadian National Whitewater Championship Award for Rock Bed Testing
1st Place Ribbon Canadian National Whitewater Championships 1972

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